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Re: The Mathieu Van der Poel Appreciation Thread
« on: October 08, 2016, 11:25 »
I chose to post this article in the Mathieu thread, here.  ;)

Article from Het Laatste Nieuws (4 October, last Monday) about the clash between Mathieu Van der Poel and Wout Van Aert

Who is the best of them all?

Talent & Technique vs Power & Character

After Gieten Wout Van Aert said

If Mathieu Van der Poel gets EVEN better I have a problem

Could it be? Four former World Champion don’t believe in it. The one is on par with the other

Together they put cyclocross to a higher dimension

Sven Nys:

Wout more professional, Mathieu more playful
With regards to pure cross technique I rate Mathieu higher than Wout. Van der Poel can put Van Aert to shame in one flash of genius like riding one lap damn hard through the sand, jumping over the hurdles, one unexpected overtaking manoeuvre: we saw a few examples of that in Gieten. Wout adds up to that with an enormous strength potential and outstanding power.

With Mathieu you could not talk about a worthy summer. Wout’s fit to the smallest details. That you can conditionally face a jog. Mathieu is strong but also brittle. On heavier routes, he can pay the price for it, while Van Aert can get in better condition than in the faster routes that we’ve had so far. I than expect a slight regression for Van der Poel.

They are great motors who have no rivals and together they put cyclocross to a higher dimension. Both are giving form to their career in their specific way. Wout is super-professional. Mathieu is for the moment a bit more playful, which can be a risk in the long run. At a certain point he’s gonna have to keep that playful way under controle.

Roger De Vlaeminck:

If Roger De Vlaeminck is shouting hosanna, then it should really be great
Good? Fantastic, that was last Sunday. I saw the most beautiful cross in years. A nice publicity for cyclocross. Normally I’m sitting quietly on my seat in front of the telly but now I’m broken down from stress, man. What a great rivalry. Mainly this shoulder to shoulder running upstairs: I intensily enjoyed that. I’m saying it to you: those two are God’s presents. Respect!

Van der Poel is training a lot in climbing, you can see that in his running strength. A special guy, still. Of course he’s still going to improve but there’s also a huge “shelf” on Wout. That way they keep themselves perfectly in balance. On one Sunday, Wout will be the best, on the other one, it’ll be Mathieu, depending on the profile and the conditions of the route.

A good crosser is of necessity a good roadie. I would like to see them race a major classic. I’d be curious to see who’s got the edge there. Okay, a bit of patience sure cannot do harm (laughs). Why would they already turn their back on cyclocross? Well they are the absolute top in their discipline. “By life and healthiness they can have 15 World titles between themselves, Jesus!

Bart Wellens:

In the coming months, we’ll get some firework. I’m looking forward to the day Van Aert just like Van der Poel are top because they both can be a lot better. Van der Poel has had a disrupted preparation, Van Aert is suffering with a toe and has undoubtedly not yet recovered from the jetlag after his trip to America.
A lot will depend on the route. Mathieu is a lot better on fast and technical routes, the heavy mud crosses are better for Wout. I’m already looking forward to Koksijde (20 November, ed.), that is a cross that can perfectly suit them both.
Mathieu is the one with the more talent but Wout has more fortitude. Mathieu loves cycling and races on pure class, Wout must work very hard for it. This season we will not only have a physical but also a mental fight. The one who is losing about three time in a row will have a serious blow. I have the feeling that Van Aert can deal with frustration a lot better. At the last Worlds, both crashed together and lost both ground. Wout got a boost, Mathieu let his mind hung.

Erwin Vervecken:

Those two are so close. Details will often be the decider. The route of course plays a role but surely also the shape of the moment. With young riders, good and bad days can seriously vary.

Van Aert is the time-trialist, the one with the bigger capacity who can hold through a heavy effort for a full hour. Van der Poel is more the rider of the interval. He’s good in long attacks. Van Aert is not specifically made for cyclocross, he’s more an all-rounder. He’s like Eddy Merckx: not a natural born climber, but good enough to win the Tour of France. Van der Poel has more cross technique, more aptitudes. Even under pressure and “à bloc”, he handles it without mistake. Talent-wise he’s one step ahead.

We shall see it day by day. Two years ago I found Mathieu stronger in his mind: he didn’t worry about anything and found everything fun but in the meantime Van Aert has caught up with him and he’s no longer panicking so quickly.
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